Friday, July 20, 2007

If you don't have probable cause just fabricate it, say drug enforcers and some TX prosecutors

UPDATE: TDCAA has removed this comment string from their site, probably because they realized the story was getting wide coverage in the blogosphere (this item has received >20,000 page views since I posted it this weekend, largely thanks to links from blogs, Buzzflash, and Overlawyered), so the link to the DA forum no longer takes you to relevant string. But I cut and pasted the quotes included in this post verbatim, so you can still get a sense of their discussion even though they'd prefer we all pretend it never existed.

Speaking of informants, on the Texas prosecutors' user forum a self-identified DEA agent named Bill sought to justify a traffic stop where drugs were found using probable cause agents had overtly fabricated. They didn't want to admit in court they were acting an a possibly unreliable informant, so took the liberty of manufacturing probable cause for a traffic stop by stealing the front license plate from the car the suspect was driving. Here's his story:
I have a federal prosecutor who has some questions with this. Maybe some DA's can shed some light. The federal AUSA [Assistant US Attorney] just has some legal concerns, he is trying to do the right thing and is working with us. In any event, here it is:

An informant gets called to run a load of dope. Fine. He provides the load vehicle, which is driven away to the stash house by a criminal load driver. Prior to the load driver picking up the car, law enforcement removes the front plate, on purpose, so that marked patrol units, working with narcotics task force, will have PC to stop the car. Narcotics task force supervisors and police patrol supervisors discuss this gameplan and everyone agrees it will be fine.

Load gets loaded. Vehicle gets stopped, upon observation by Texas peace officers who witness first hand that the vehicle is in violation of traffic law, with no front plate. Drugs are in plain view thru the glass, and driver consents to search. Drugs seized. Driver arrested. Case expanded on. Everyone high-fives each other.

AUSA feels that the fact that law enforcement "created" the PC, that some issues may come up down the road, such as at discovery. AUSA is also concerned that he may have to "reveal" that this PC was pre-orchestrated to the defense and that an informant was really involved.

We explain the concept of "wall-off" and how PC did legally exist to make the stop, created by us or not.

(As an aside, UC agents use deception and dupery all the time to buy dope. Is the PC for those arrests "bad" because of such tactics?....etc etc)

Can someone share their insight and quote some case law so that I may talk my AUSA? Any "interdiction" experts or similar is helpful also.
502.404. OPERATION OF VEHICLE WITHOUT LICENSE PLATE OR REGISTRATION INSIGNIA. (a) A person commits an offense if the person operates on a public highway during a registration period a passenger car or commercial motor vehicle that does not display two license plates, at the front and rear of the vehicle, that have been:.......

The code states "does not display" it does not say "if removed by law enforcement, this section is not in force" etc etc language

Again, the AUSA is a good guy but might benefit from some additional info from the field on this.

By the way, we could be 100% wrong on this too...

any info is appreciated however
Keep in mind, according to this passage, not just the DEA but an unnamed narcotics task force and also local police "
discuss[ed] this gameplan and everyone agree[d] it will be fine." In other words, this kind of skullduggery, to those officers and their agencies, anyway, is just business as usual.

To their credit, several prosecutors said it did not pass the smell test. One ADA declared "
The ONLY reason why they stopped the vehicle was because it was TAMPERED with by law enforcement officers! All that dope is fruit of the poisonous tree and you will be lucky if the prep doesn't turn around and sue you guys for violating his civil rights!!"

But I was astonished to see others suggest the scenario was okay, including an ADA from LaGrange who declared:
I don't see a problem with taking the plate off. Law enforcement will often hand the defendant the drugs and then arrest him for possession. The question is did the defendant operate the vehicle without the front license plate.
Damn! Just take off the license plate off then pull him over for not having it? Or more astonishing, hand them dope and then arrest them for possession? No, no entrapment there, huh? A regular commenter, Jimbeaux, suggested, "Why don't you just cut the brake lines and arrest him when he goes through a stop sign?" No kidding!

Here's my question: Why isn't the officer charged with theft of the license plate? No one suggested such a thing on the prosecutors string, but you have to wonder. And why would it be worth police engaging in all this mendacity to keep their informant from being scrutinized in court? Maybe because the informant is more culpable than his handlers are letting on. My guess: there's a lot more backstory to this informant's involvement than meets the eye.

MORE: See an excellent followup post on this subject from the blog Simple Justice, and more discussion from the blog Defending People. Also see the discussion string at

RELATED: See recent Grits coverage of a Congressional subcommittee hearing on problems with confidential informants:


Anonymous said...

Unethical behavior by law enforcement is used by criminals to justify their negative behavior. In the example given police steal the license plate, not remove it. The Supreme Court has allowed police to lie now it appears police are moving to the next level of openly stealing to fabricate probable cause. Informants are allowed to operate criminal enterprises as long as they provide someone for the police to arrest. Where does the system of illegal operations stop? Do the police allow an informant to murder if their information is good enough to enable a high profile bust?

Corruption is a cancer that will continue to grow in police agencies if allowed to exist in any form. Making the bust is considered to be all important center pin in today’s law enforcement circles. Personally I feel how the bust is made is most important in the long run. Was the rule of law followed? Is an ethical method used to develop the case? If the answer to either of these questions is no then the bust is a bad one. Manufactured cases often require perjury to hold up in court. The lack of ethical methodology take law enforcement places they should never be. After manufacturing a case and having to commit perjury in court who is the criminal? The end does not justify the means.

Don’t lie, steal, or covet comes from God’s top ten list. We might do well to apply these 10 simple rules to the operation of our government agencies.

Anonymous said...

Well, the agent of the government removes the plate from a car he is providing.

Drug runner who uses car appears to lack the foresight to check his vehicle.

He has some right to privacy and a legal auto?

He has no such rights. He took a rigged vehicle, a government agent's vehicle. The same as if it had been wired for video and audio.

Anonymous said...

Where did you read the Govt. agent provided the car?

I read that it was provided by the informant (load runner). The Govt. just removed the license before any law was broken in anticipation of a crime and to enable them to have probable cause to arrest someone.

This sort of thing is clearly a violation of our civil rights.

Anonymous said...

Stealing the license plate was a criminal offense. The police involved need fines and imprisonment, and a police record that will follow them the rest of their lives.

Anonymous said...

The INFORMANT provided the car. The car (now full of drugs) happens to have a license plate missing. It's the same thing as if the car was loaded up with a recording device, camera, GPS, etc. Caveat emptor. If you're going to haul dope, use your own damn car. There are other actual abuses to be concerned with--not this though.

You say "possibly an unreliable informant." Where did that come from. Who is fabricating what???

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Where did that come from? The cops are going to all this effort to fabricate probable cause so the informant's role won't be revealed in court. Obviously there's more going on there with the informant than the DEA Agent reported or they'd just use him or her for PC.

Anonymous said...

I admire your healthy skepticism. However, do you think there's an equal and likely possibility that they want to keep using the iformant (i.e., not blow his i.d.) or may be concerned about his safety? I think they would still have to provide the fact that an informant was used in response to a discovery motion; but you automatically ASSUME that "unreliability" is the reason for not wanting to disclose the i.d.

Anonymous said...

The licence plate belongs to the state, so how could it be theft from a citizen?

I say shoot all these cops that are still working the corrupt "war on drugs," and let God sort them out.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@7:35 - I said the informant was "possibly" unreliable - I didn't assume he was, but said he might be. That's one very common reason police don't want to reveal where they get their information.

If they want to keep using the informant, fine, but defendants in criminal cases get to face their accusers. So if you want to make this case, you'll have to reveal you had an informant; if not, wait and go after the bigger fish.

IANAL, but concealing who that accuser really is and fabricating a different reason to justify police actions to me amounts to a thinly veiled lie that violates rights and encourages further police corruption.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Also, you said: "It's the same thing as if the car was loaded up with a recording device, camera, GPS, etc."

No, it's not the same. Those things are designed to catch a crook if he or she chooses to commit a crime. These officers manufactured a crime with which to accuse the defendant.

Anonymous said...

"They didn't want to admit in court they were acting an a possibly unreliable informant..."
--you are automatically imparting bad motive. You magically know the motivation? You didn't say, "one reason might be."

" stealing the front license plate from the car the suspect was driving."
REALLY? Stealing? Your hyperbole detracts from your argument.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

First, you're right that I didn't say "one motive might be," I said "possibly," because a good writer never uses four words for a caveat when one will do perfectly well.

And I also said officers stole the plate, because they did. What is stealing? One definition is "to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully." So police took the plate without the driver's knowledge for the purpose of setting him or her up to accuse the person of a crime. Where's the hyperbole?

Anonymous said...

Come on, man. It's the informant's car. The plate was gone before the suspect got behind the wheel. So even under the most convoluted stretching of the definition of "owner" nothing was appropriated, stolen, or taken from the suspect b/c he never had it. He possessed or owned a lot of dope, but not the plate.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Contort away, amigo.

I'd be curious if the informant was told beforehand that they did that. It didn't sound like it.

This is bad policing bordering on corrupt policing, and it's indicative of an attitude: Skirt every rule, cut every corner, and push the limits of acceptable police practices beyond need or reason.

Why not just set up a wire, like you said? Why do it this way? Because they're so used to cutting corners that this kind of crap seems normal. I can't believe anybody's defending it - even the assistant US Attorney and most of the DA's forum think the situation smells.

Anonymous said...

Contorting? Hardy har har. I'm just going on the facts you provided and there is nothing to indicate it was "Stolen" under any rational definition of the word. When you say things like that without factual support, it detracts from the good points of your argument which you restated in your previous post.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Okay, say it wasn't "stealing." Here's the real question: Was it proper? You seem to be defending this oddball tactic rather stridently.

Of course, even in your scenario if they didn't tell the informant they removed the plate it might be stealing in a legal sense, too. But IMO it was an unethical police maneuver in any event.

Anonymous said...

Unethical in what sense? Are you saying unethical b/c you believe it is illegal/unconstitutional or in some broader ethical sense? As a general matter, do I think it is "unethical" for "the fuzz" to provide a dope hauler with a "defective" vehicle?--No.

Should it be the preferred method?--No.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I mean unethical in the same sense the ADA on the comment string meant when he wrote:

"The ONLY reason why they stopped the vehicle was because it was TAMPERED with by law enforcement officers! All that dope is fruit of the poisonous tree and you will be lucky if the perp doesn't turn around and sue you guys for violating his civil rights!!"

Anonymous said...

Am I to understand that the "dope", and the illegal job of transporting it, as well as the purposely rigged for probable cause car, were provided by the government agents?

Government agents completely contrived the entire "crime", then put the guy in the driver's seat?


Anonymous said...

In texas code of criminal procedure, article 38.23, it says that no evidence obtained in violation of the constitution or laws of the State of Texas shall be admitted into evidence against the accused.
It is clear that driving a vehicle without a front license plate is illegal and reason for a stop.
The question that I have is how was the vehicle delivered to the carrier? I don't believe that the informant had the vehicle towed to the drop site - he drove it. This is an illegal act. If the only way to get the car to the carrier was to drive it illegally, the evidence is the fruit of an illegal act.
However, there are other factors that do not weigh so heavily for the defendant. The car belonged to someone. I do not know who, but taking a license plate off a vehicle with the owner's permission is not a theft, so I don't think you can rely on that argument.
I drove my daughter's truck to work the other day. Her registration was expired and she intentionally let it expire because she wanted to pay it later so she had money until payday. I did not know about it until after I already left the house. I, therefore, operated a vehicle with expired registration. Do I have the right to argue that I should not be stopped because the owner gave me the vehicle in a condition that was not legal?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@Texweslawyer: That was your daughter's fault. How about if the police removed your daughter's registration sticker intentionally (with or without her knowledge, in this case we don't know) to manufacture a reason to pull you over? Would you still think that's kosher?

And yes, Hope, you've summarized the situation accurately as far as I can tell. Why is anybody's guess, but my own speculation would be to maximize arrest numbers.

Anonymous said...

FYI - did you read the last post on the TCDAA forum that one member is telling the rest of his mates to be careful because that thread might be on the "breakfast menu soon."

I agree if the oficer did not have the permission to take the liscense plate then he committed a theft and all evidence derived directly from that action are supressable pursueant to tx code crim proc Art. 38.23.

It does warm my heart that the federal prosecutor is at least giving some thought to fulfilling her constitutionally mandated duty to reveal all POTENTIALLY exculpatory evidnce to the defense. This should be a no brainer that she has to reveal the activity. I know what she is thinking, if this landed in federal court in Houston almost every judge in that courthouse would throw out this search on a motion to supress within 2 minutes of evidence closing. The others would still suppress it but would atleast take overnight to think about it.

It is behavior like this, treating the constitution as a suggestive document rather than a required mandate that is leading us one step closer to the true police state law enforcment want

balzie said...

Has anyone (meaning the USA Justice Dept., or the local DA) thought of charging ALL these cops with conspiracy?! I've had clients who've done less and been charged with more. And the comment, the license plates are property of the state, is ridiculous. When I buy them, they give them to me and when they make me buy another set 5 years later, they DO NOT ask for 'their property' back. They are mine to keep. And if you steal them from my car, or even the old ones from my garage, whether it is to make a roof for your kid's 4-H birdhouse project or to attach to your car to rob a 7-11, it is theft in every sense of the word. These cops were unethical and performed an illegal act. I get it that for a cop to lie to a suspect is not a crime for which they can be prosecuted (but for those of you who have some morals, it's wrong), but taking anything from anyone without their knowledge or consent is a crime no matter what the purpose. (Remember the mother who steals a loaf of bread because her kids are hungry? Still = crime, and in most counties in Texas would be prosecuted, unfortunately.) If Border Patrol agents who shoot a fleeing drug smuggler can be prosecuted in the Western District of Texas for doing their duty, then these cops should be prosecuted for going beyond performing their 'duty' and committing a crime.

Anonymous said...

Actually, based on the information from the informant, the pollice had pc to stop the car. They just removed the plate to have another excuse to stop the car without burning their snitch.

I'm pulled over cars due to informant info and just flat out lied to the driver about why I stopped him. As long as I had PC and I put all that information in the affidavit, I can tell the bad guy whatever I want. Doesn't take away the orginal pc.

However, if the cops in this case actually try to say the lp was the real reason they stopped him, I would say that was wrong. You can't create pc. What's to stop an anonomous 911 call just to give you a reason to stop a person?


Anonymous said...

Why don't the cops simply plant narcotics in the vehicle and then get a warrant allowing them to search for and find the narcotics they put there? This would save a lot of time, and it would make everybody happy -- the cops, the judges, and the prosecutors. (Nobody else really matters.)

Anonymous said...

Heck, maybe the informant is one of Johnny Sutton's.

bugdog said...

Lame. It's just too damn easy to get PC on the driver of a vehicle. All they have to (do in Texas) is not signal a lane change or turn and they can be pulled over.

I'm married to a cop and my dad is also a cop and there is no way I'd ever say this was a good idea, not even in my "new cop wife zealot" days.

Anonymous said...

Attention to All of You Lovely Folks Who Feel Qualified to Express Useless Opinions on Random Blogs:

STOP IT. You are wasting your lives. Your opinions can only fall into three categories - Yes, No or Maybe/Neutral.

STOP - Move away from your computers and actually contribute something to this world before you die.



Anonymous said...

I'm honestly not seeing what the issue is. What they did wasn't illegal, or really, immoral. A vehicle was requested from an informant, and the informant and police removed the plate before handing it over to the dealers.

If the dealers were smart/cautious/etc. they would have checked for obvious ticketable offenses before using the vehicle. For the same reason that most drug transporters are overly-law abiding when transporting. They know that if they don't give police a reason to pull them over, they won't get pulled over.

Anonymous said...

Hey Fred - Thank you for telling us how to live our lives.

Here is one for you:

STOP IT - You are a hypocrite. You are making a fool of yourself to the world.

STOP - Move away from your computer and actually contribute something more than pointing out your hypocracy to this world before you die.


CMack said...

"Drugs are in plain view thru the glass..."

Wait, if they were in plain view, does that not constitute probable cause for search? In Michigan, if an officer sees an open beer bottle on the back dash through the rear window of your car, it's pull-over-and-search time!
If PC was required to even initiate the stop, I'm sure the officers would have been within the letter of the law for pulling the driver over for exceeding the speed limit by 1MPH, and then BAM! Look! I see drugs!
I don't understand why it was necessary to pull of the plate, exposing all involved to some serious charges. What would you or I, as regular Joe (or Josephine) citizens receive if we were caught stealing a license plate? That's state property, and only the REGISTERED driver is allowed to have it! Well, in a few states like Arizona, the registered owner actually owns the plate, but I digress.
If a police officer wants to get "letter-of-the-law" on someone, there's ALWAYS something he can burn ANYONE for. Nobody drives so perfect they don't violate some extremely minor regulation at least once everytime they get behind the wheel, (like that 1MPH over the speed limit I mentioned before).

Unknown said...

really, who are we kidding? things like this happen all the time. the true question would be: why are we even concerned of how they got the drugs off of the street? it wasn't as if they used an innocent person in harms way. i say that they did a fine job. more law enforcement agencies across the country should tune in and get a free lesson. corruption would be harming those of who are innocent, not the drug pushers. this country is full of people that sympathize with criminals, that it just makes me sick. i believe the government benefits from illegal drugs because without them, taxes would be much lower(not paying all those drug task forces), initially the use of drugs would be high, but then it would taper off. we want drugs off of the streets as citizens, because it gets extremely dangerous. just because they took off the license plate doesn't mean that they did wrong. the person driving the car should have noticed something wrong before operating the vehicle.

Anonymous said...

"it wasn't as if they used an innocent person in harms way. i say that they did a fine job. more law enforcement agencies across the country should tune in and get a free lesson. corruption would be harming those of who are innocent, not the drug pushers."

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Nah, fuck it, just look at that guy, he's gotta be guilty og something, right?

Anonymous said...

I call baloney. This is not from any sane law enforcement agent, regardless of what he claims to be. The law is very clear- even in the event of an anonymous tip- if the facts play out as the tipster has described, you are good to stop the car/person/whatever. You don't need to fabricate anything.

And drug runners don't leave drugs in plain view.

Anonymous said...

It seems that all cops are liars and shouldn't be trusted! Here's more proof!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I don't remotely believe that "all cops are liars and shouldn't be trusted." However the untrustworthy ones are too frequently tolerated by their brethren, that's for sure. In this case the officers seemed more dumb than malevolent - as bugdog and others have said there are many other ways to get PC for a stop - but it's hard to tell from a distance what they were thinking.

Anonymous said...

Anybody ever hear of the warrant clause? Let's say thay had a reliable informant who provided advance information that an individual would be transporting narcotics, then they had an opportunity to present what they believe to be probable cause to a neutral magistrate and obtain a warrant.

Have we all forgotten that this is the rule under the Fourth Amendment? Or have the exceptions, explanations, rationales and excuses so completely swallowed the rule that it has simply ceased to exist? Let us, if no one else, remember the warrant clause.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Let us, if no one else, remember the warrant clause."

R.I.P., 1787-2005

Unknown said...

Why don't they just remove the front plates from every car in the state, then they can stop anyone they please whenever they please. No more of that pesky fourth amendment.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is WOW! so many different views yet none said what the real fear is. If the police are allowed to remove a LP for PC, what would stop them from planting evidence to remove an otherwise "law abiding citizen" from his freedom? Manufacturing evidence or planting evidence is wrong no matter what intentions it serves. The end does not justify the means. What if the arresting officer(s) just dont like someone? they could in essence manufacture a reason to arrest them and lock them away with no repercussions on their part. Does this remind anyone of a KGB tactic? I for one am not ready to let the long arm of the law extend to this kind of unlawful behavior.
Not signing Anon.
Rob G

Anonymous said...

The fact that the officers removed the LP to justify the initial detention is "Brady" material. It must be disclosed and/or the case must be dismissed. Either way, none of the evidence will survive a suppression motion (maybe in texas).

Anonymous said...

The whole thing looks like a setup or entrapment. They supplied the drugs, the car, the probable cause.

How is that not entrapment?

Unknown said...

This is horrible. What if the guy didn't have any drugs in the car? Would they have given him a ticket for no front plate? This is a really slippery slope. Maybe the guy is an outspoke critic of a political official. Then maybe just go ahead and put the drugs in his car. Where does the insanity stop in this country. Big Brother didn't come in 1984, but now he's starting to appear in 2007...

Unknown said...

If I were a perp, I'd have covered / hidden my drugs, gotten pulled over, fabricated a story about the missing plate, refused to consent to search, delivered my drugs, and then if I found out about the plot, sued for civil rights infringements.

Since I had refused to consent, there wouldn't have been a search or bust, and I'd have just been your regular law-abiding citizen suing for cops trying to set you up.

Anonymous said...

i myself have had simmular things happen to me and had charges droped due to rights violation and illeagal search and seizure, and entrapment so i hope this guy gets a good lawyer cause that is a REAL easy case to beat

Anonymous said...

Read Charles Bowden - either 'Down By The River' or 'A Shadow In The City' if you are interested in the way this really works. Of course the informant is totally involved in all kinds of illegal things and the DEA is letting him continue so they can rack in cases...

Anonymous said...

Ok all you legal eagles: with the informant's information, officers already had PC. When they took off the plate they were operating under the assumption that they did not have probable cause. All they had to do n(if that consternated their pea-brains) was to acquire a search warrant for the car beforehand. Removing the plate gives them away as morons but would not have had to mess up the arrest.

Anonymous said...

For all of you who said that the informants information already gave the officers probable cause, you are just plain wrong under both Federal and Texas Law. Before an informants tip can be used to establish PC, the affidavit supporting the warrant, and oh by the way using an informant there must be a warrant, would have to establish that the CI is reliable. The whole purpose of manufacturing the PC is because the CI was not reliable or otherwise engaging in illegal activity. Either way the informant alone does not establish the PC.

Secondly, for the argument that they took a bad guy and drugs off the street so it must be ok, how would you feel if for some reason a local law enforcement officer decided you must be a master criminal, started manufacturing PC to stop and search your car. When he found nothing, being convinced you were a bad person and needed to be locked up, planted some drugs in your car. Then it comes to trial and its your word against his and you are in prison. This case is only one small step from this reality.

btw - those of you sanctioning this action, if you were the one targeted above would be the first to try cover yourself in the blanket of protection provided by the constitution (even though now you feel it is a nuicanse to good law enforcement) only to find that because you sacrificed some freedom and liberty you now have none. As Ben Franklin said, those who give up a little liberty for more security deserve and eventually will have neither.

Michael said...

I notice there are a lot of anonymous comments, and I can't blame anyone who leaves an anonymous comment on a website that's probably monitored by conscience-less members of the law enforcement community, but my name's Michael; I'm an attorney with a (non-law related) blog; and you can find all my contact information there.

Quite simply, I think the ADA from La Grange is scum. The entire war against drugs is as misguided as the war against terrorism, for the same reason: the "war" is the cause of the problem. Legalize and regulate drugs, and the market for them will disappear as the profit margin drops like a stone. But that's a separate issue from the "ends justifying the means" attitude used by law enforcement personnel to rationalize their own flaunting of the Constitution. People like this don't really believe in any of the guarantees contained in the Bill of Rights. Do criminals? Probably not, and they certainly are adept at gaming the system. But since when do we gauge our own behaviors or ethics against the conduct of criminals? Yes, it makes our jobs harder. So, our jobs are harder. We signed up for that by enjoying the freedom afforded to the citizens of the greatest country in history.

Mr. LaGrange ADA: I hope the comforts of a nice mortal living on earth will ease your mind when you pass on to the next life and suffer the true consequences of your intellectual dishonesty.

Michael M. Simpson

Anonymous said...

Criminals (alleged and/or accused) have so many "rights" that the system is weighted heavily in their favour, with all kinds of technicalities and sleazy defense attorneys making it easier and easier for them to get away with crimes. I don't blame law enforcement agencies and their officers for using every means at their disposal to try and turn the tide in the daily war against crime.

The suggestion that the police officers involved should be charged with theft and conspiracy is absolutely ridiculous.

Example 1: undercover agents (narcotics) commit criminal offences like drug possession and traficking all the time in order to pursue investigations. Should those officers then be thrown in the slammer alongside the gang members they just put away?

Example 2: Police cruisers exceed the posted speed limits on high-speed pursuits to catch offenders. Should a criminal be given free passage as long as he's willing to drive away quickly?

Example 3: Police sniper takes out a hostage-taker before he can press the trigger on a home-made bomb, should the sniper be charged with murder?

Any person with some common sense will see that police officers are just trying to do their job, which is to protect their citizens from lowlife scum.

Let's remind ourselves that the police did not use an illegal act to discover the drugs, they had testimonial evidence beforehand, and were simply following a strategy that best suited their needs at the time. Good for them!

Anonymous said...

This story is reason #8137 to repeal all drug laws and deport all cops to North Korea where they can live in a government-controlled paradise.

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael M. Simpson:
Quit hyperventilating and get a life.

Anonymous said...

Whitey Bulger was a Boston Mobster. Whitey was a murderer. Whitey was an FBI informant. Ergo, Whitey was never arrested for his crimes. Because he informed on other people (sometimes falsely), he was allowed to commit crime unimpeded by his FBI handler.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I wrote a bit about the Bulger incident when the movie The Departed came out, where Jack Nicholson's character was loosely based on Bulger.

Anonymous said...

What makes this whole thing so suspect is that if the police had an informant, they had a location, and knowledge of the drug deal/transportation why didn't they just get a warrant. PC is no longer needed to stop them. If this was a valid bust they have more than enough information for a warrant. Especially since the USA Patriot act and the warrant can be sealed to protect the informants identity.

Anonymous said...

Part of what I read in the quotes made was that the informant supplied the car, but not who owned the car, or if the informant agreed to removal of the tags and whether or not Texas considers tags to be state owned (like Maryland, sell the car and either transfer them or send them back) or Vehicle owned (like Arkansas , keep the plates, just register them if they are on a vehicle.) {Assuming here the Arkansas method of tag use..}

I believe if the vehicle was the informants AND the informant agreed to the removing of the tag, he and the police should be considered liable for conspiracy. The fact that they conspired to cause an illegal act to happen and that crime would not have happened except that they intervened. If this is incorrect on my part, police can do anything they like to any vehicle and we are up for unending illegal arrests and convictions.

If the vehicle was police supplied, and owned, then search and seizure ok. (But wouldn't need to take tag then would they?) I can be arrested and charged with driving without a front tag even if someone stole it and it was foggy and....., the driver is responsible to make sure the vehicle is in legal condition. {I don't like it but I can't see it being illegal :( }

If it was informant owned but not agreed on by the informant, no go, AND the police are to be charged with stealing plates and conspiracy to break the law.

Yes police can lie in any way they want, but lying is not an action; if a narcotics cop gets caught using drugs, even in the case of a bust, that bust (and others) at least are up for appeal, if not immediate reversal.

On top of it all, because the police's PC was the CI the whole bust becomes illegal; all is premised on that originally and if that is not enough to stand in court, the rest is illegally gotten evidence.

Better to have used "he/she was driving in an erratic way" or "Dangerous manner" and pull them over on that, IF they had no CI. The CI was why they were doing all else.

And yes, Anonymous, we have lots of laws to protect the accused; not near as many for the convicted. I have been a victim of a b%^$&*^t pullover and it made me madder than 'ell. "You forgot to signal before you changed lanes." Which was BS. I was in a rental car for work (from Arkansas in Texas, with Georgia rental plates), so I was being so very careful, didn't want a ticket AND lose my job.

During the pull over I found out why he really did it; he wanted to search the car. In the end I got a warning about the lights, but in the mean time I agreed to the search so that I wouldn't po my boss. And no, I wasn't a WPOD; at the time I was a 25 year old married man in a nice suit, driving the limit in the area in a well kept rental car, riding with a black tool box (for printers which they DIDN'T want to search) and one luggage bag. Go figure.

It was wrong because he had no real PC. It also turned me very bitter against both Texas and State Cops. Those laws protecting the accused are the ones that should have protected me.

Anonymous said...

"If PC was required to even initiate the stop, I'm sure the officers would have been within the letter of the law for pulling the driver over for exceeding the speed limit by 1MPH...."

Texas doesn't have speed limits.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments. What seems to be forgotten is that police officers are not trained in how to solve crimes, they are taught how to generate revenue. I know, I know, there are those "few" good officers out there...but my personal experience proves that constitutional rights of private citizens are not taught at the police academy. Case in point: Police officer knocks on my door one evening. I calmly answer with my two boys in tow, obviously having a night at home with the kids. I was told that a 911 call had been made from my home. My oldest had been with me watching a movie, however, my 3 year old had been upstairs playing in his room. The officer verified the call came from the upstairs number. I explained there was no emergency, and my 13 year old said (unbeknownst to me) that 911 was on speed dial on the upstairs phone. I apologized for the inconvenience and told the officer I would remove 911 from speed dial immediately. He was standing on my front porch and I was just inside my door. I thought he said "I just needed to check things out", and I said "okay". He moved to come into my house. I said "wait a minute, what are you doing?" to which he replied, "I have to come in and check things out". I responded with "not without a warrant". He did not like that. He said it was "policy" that they come in and walk through the premises, after all "there could be someone shot in the head, bleeding to death upstairs". (Yes, that is what he said in front of my sons) I assured him that wasn't the case and he would not be coming into my house without a warrant. He was a young guy, probably mid 20's, and he got mad. He radio'd his supervisor, who asked if there was anything "suspicious". He replied "no". He was told to come back to the station. As he left, he looked at me and said sarcastically, "thank you for your cooperation". I said, "anytime". Why did I not let him in my house? Firstly, because my right to privacy is guaranteed to me by the 4th amendment. Secondly, because my brother is 4th generation law enforcement (a captain of a police dept.) and told me years ago, he never had to have a reason to pull anyone over. He could always "find" a reason during the stop. "Probable Cause" is subjective due to the fact we as individuals are not informed about our rights, and that lack of information is what the authorities rely on, in addition to our laziness at defending those rights. After all, it is much easier just to "pay the ticket" rather than go to court and defend ourselves, much less ask for a jury trial. Until we as individuals take responsibility for the state of our criminal justice system, our rights will continue to be violated. "It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority" -Benjamin Franklin

Anonymous said...

" Firstly, because my right to privacy is guaranteed to me by the 4th amendment."

I guess it is a good thing that there wasn't anybody upstairs injured then huh? Give me a break with your uppity attitude. If a police officer receives a 911 call from a residence, don't you think common sense would require them to make sure someone didn't need help?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Todd, I'd tell a cop at my front door the same thing: "Not without a warrant." That's not uppity; what's uppity IMO is an officer's expectation that we'll all just give up our rights at the drop of a hat. Beyond a "Terry frisk" if police want to search anything of mine - house, car, grocery bag, you name it - they need to get authorization from a judge because they won't get it from me.

Anonymous said...

"Beyond a "Terry frisk" if police want to search anything of mine - house, car, grocery bag, you name it - they need to get authorization from a judge because they won't get it from me."

Gotta beg to differ there. Officers are able to make entry due to extigent circumstances. Quick war story:

I got called to an anonymous 911 call about a fight at an apartment complex BBQ area. Caller said that a group got into a fight and all parties went into the same apartment. One seemed injured. I got there and the homeowner answered the door.

He seemed nervous and wouldn't open the door all the way. He denied any knowledge of a fight but his clothes had dirt on them. I asked to come in and he said I needed a warrant.

Now based on all the libertarians on this board, I should have left and come back with a warrant. This isn't practical because obtaining a warrant can take hours. In the meantime, there could be someone injured in that place.

What did I do? I pushed my way past him and searched his apartment for injured parties. I found a guy who was bloody but refused any medical help. Now I feel that my entry was perfectly legal and any illegal items found in plain view would have be admissable in court. Of course, if I did see any dope and wanted to search for that further, I would have to get a warrant.



Gritsforbreakfast said...

Exigent circumstances, sure - I'd still tell you to get a warrant and exigent circumstances would give you the right to push past me. But if there weren't REALLY exigent circumstances and you just pushed past anyway, a judge would throw out the search and you'd have violated my constitutional rights.

IANAL, but the case you describe is borderline - since the 911 was anonymous and you were denied entry, no one inside wanted you there or desired your help, and you saw nothing in plain view once you were there, my guess if they'd chosen to file a complaint you might have been in the wrong. But like I say, it's borderline - the Supreme Court has whittled away the Fourth Amendment to almost nothing, so it might have passed muster.

In the case described by the fellow who wouldn't let the officer into the house, there weren't any exigent circumstances and there was no reason to consider him "uppity" for not consenting to a search.

CMack said...

Ben Tillman said:
"Texas doesn't have speed limits."

You're not being serious, right? I'm sure as I was crossing the panhandle on a cross-country move six months ago, we observed many speed limit signs, and plenty of highway patrol officers enforcing them as well.

From Wikipedia (corroborated on other sites as well):
"...some two-lane rural roads in Texas have 75 mph (120 km/h) speed limits, and there are two stretches of Interstate in West Texas with a daytime 80 mph (130 km/h) speed limit for passenger vehicles."

I don't believe there's a single state in the Union that doesn't have speed limits on all major roadways.

Michael said...

Hey anonymous:

I've got a life. Why don't you get a name?

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Interesting article. I am hearing about drug paddlers, drug traffic getting busted. But still people some how manage to get hands on drugs and they are not worried about Passing a drug test, since detox drinks and capsules which are available in market.

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